Poor Stress Responses May Lead to Obesity in Children

Poor Stress Management Leads to Obesity in ChildrenChildren who overreact to stressors may be at risk of becoming overweight or obese, according to researchers at Penn State and Johns Hopkins University.

"Our results suggest that some children who are at risk of becoming obese can be identified by their biological response to a stressor," said Lori Francis, associate professor of biobehavioral health. "Ultimately, the goal is to help children manage stress in ways that promote health and reduce the risks associated with an over- or under-reactive stress response."

Francis and her colleagues — Douglas Granger, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research at Johns Hopkins University, and Elizabeth Susman, Jean Phillips Shibley Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State — recruited 43 children ages 5- to 9-years-old and their parents to participate in the study.

To examine the children’s reactions to a stressor, the team used the Trier Social Stress Test for Children, which consists of a five-minute anticipation period followed by a 10-minute stress period. During the stress period, the children were asked to deliver a speech and perform a mathematics task. The team measured the children’s responses to these stressors by comparing the cortisol content of their saliva before and after the procedure.

Full story of stress and obesity in children at Science Daily

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